Advance Review: Up, Up, And Away For Skyward #1 In A Glorious Debut

by Richard Bruton

Skyward is a new comic that simply asks the intriguing question; “What if gravity suddenly, unbelievably, turned off?” But based on this first issue, it’s more about the idea of freedom, of youthful joy, of simply no longer being held down, whether by Newton’s laws, by human frailty, or by old ideas. It’s rather damn good.

It’s such a positive, fantastical tale, but you can tell that from the glorious cover. The look of absolute joy on the protagonist’s face, the positioning, the hair…it’s all quite wonderful. And I have to give a nod to whoever designed the logo; that “A” turned into an arrow going up— genius little touch right there.

Created by Joe Henderson, showrunner of the Lucifer TV series, and Lee Garbett, artist on the Lucifer comic series, it’s a fresh idea, and Garbett’s art feels open, expansive, with big panels ruling the day. Fitting for a comic where the sky features so much. As a first issue, Skyward really does everything it needs to do: it introduces us to a wonderful character, living in a strange world, sets things up just right, and most importantly of all, gets a place on the pull-list for sure.

Welcome to the low-G world of Willa:

It certainly is.

Going back to the beginning, though… Sometime in present-ish day Chicago, baby Willa sleeps peacefully in her crib, unaware that in the space of a few moments the world is going to change completely. Dad is some sort of scientist, or at least we can surmise that from his reaction to the sudden loss of gravity. Not panic, just a calm realisation…

It’s happening. No one believed me but… I was right.

The sudden change in the laws of physics cause devastation, and anything, and anyone is lost to the sky. And sadly, that includes Willa’s mother. But baby Willa doesn’t know that. All she does is float from her crib, a look of awe and wonder on her face.

Cut to 20 years later.

And that look of wonder, it’s still there. In a beautiful use of a page transition, Willa is airborne, and she’s obviously loving it. Again, Garbett’s use of space creates an expansive look, beautifully bright, it’s a damn big-ass sky, but it’s beautiful.

Those twenty years have seen things change. In actual fact, gravity hasn’t quite turned off, it’s just a fraction of what it was. The surviving people have adapted to this new world, with tethers to stay on the ground and various propulsion systems for getting about.

All of this isn’t spelt out for us, but it’s simply there to see. Skyward isn’t a wordy thing, but that adds to the experience, the expansiveness of it all. We see all the small changes alongside the huge one. The idea of being free from gravity’s constraints crops up again and again, in clever little touches, such as Willa’s workmate, Edison, a paraplegic lower leg amputee, whose life is so much better now. Or another workmate, whose body weight is no longer an issue. Or perhaps that’s even a subtle nod to humanity simply no longer caring if they put on the weight, as low-G conditions means it’s no longer an impediment. Similarly, there are the various mentions of the world outside the city being dangerous, which figures. Fewer buildings, fewer things to anchor to, more risk of floating to your death.

As for Willa, she’s one of the generation born post-G-Day, and she loves the new world. Seriously, what’s not to love about being free as a bird? She’s a creative one, but far too impulsive.

After all, to escape a couple of muggers, you don’t point a gun at the ground in a world where you can die if you jump too high, or float on up.

No one uses guns anymore, all it will do is send you flying.

Of course it will. No gravity means no gunshot, just the backward force pushing the firer away. Simple idea, but again, something you don’t immediately think of. The solution is as risky as the first gunshot, but she’s brave enough to try it anyway.

And then there’s dad. Losing Willa’s mom seems to have broken him. He’s tried to keep Willa inside most of her life, but she’s spreading her wings and he’s terrified of losing her. But the line at the start, him knowing about it all… well, he’s got a plan to fix things.

Skyward has a fabulously free feel to it, through the ideas, but mostly through the wonderful Willa. It’s all about one young woman and how she’s finding herself in a strange new world. It’s a great first issue that grabs you, involves you, and definitely makes it to the must buy the next issue list.

Skyward Issue 1 is released in April by Image Comics. Written by Joe Henderson, art by Lee Garbett, colors by Antonio Fabela, letters by Simon Bowland. Here’s the cover to issue 2 as a treat:

Skyward #1 arrives from Image Comics on April 18th, 2018.